May’s ‘extreme’ bedfellows may be good for welfare benefits


Prime Minister Theresa May.

It is no surprise that Theresa May wants to hold on to the keys of 10 Downing Street. After all, it is the official home of the British prime minister. But she needs help, her Conservative party fell several seats short of an overall majority in last week’s general election.

As I write this, talks are continuing between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The DUP is the only other party that is willing to support a May government. And that could be interesting as far as disability and other benefits are concerned.

So, what is the DUP and what does it stand for?

Right-wing, ‘extremist’

DUP leader Arlene Foster.

It is Northern Ireland’s right-wing, unionist, protestant party. It’s the largest political party in the province and is the fifth largest in the UK’s House of Commons. It is an organisation that was born out of controversy, being founded in 1971 during the worst of the troubles. The founder and first leader was the late firebrand Rev Ian Paisley. Some label it ‘extremist’.

But what does that mean for all of us, wherever we may be?

The DUP is Eurosceptic and an advocate of a hard Brexit. It is a fierce defender of protestant unionism (with Great Britain) against Roman Catholic Irish nationalism (merging with Ireland). It opposes both gay marriage and legalised abortion.

Voted against government’s benefit cuts

Interestingly, however, while the party’s MPs might not always be in the House of Commons chamber, when they were there during the last parliament, they consistently vote against the Conservative’s cuts in welfare benefits.

Any deal between the two parties looks set to be on a case-by-case basis, not a formal coalition. As such, it could mean that the Conservative minority government might be outvoted if it tries to impose any further cuts in this sensitive area.

Now, that would be a step forward for those of us who rely on those benefits because we have a disability, or are elderly.

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* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Features Writer with Medical News Today. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.


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